BILLY 'CHAINSAW' 30/06/03

 
 
 

Click Here For Bigger ScanBilly 'Chainsaw' Houlston ran the Siouxsie & The Banshees fan club from  1979 to 1995.  Please note it is at Billy's request that these questions and answers not be duplicated elsewhere.  Please respect his wishes

 


How did you acquire the nickname 'Chainsaw'? (Petah)

If I told you that I would have to kill you :)

How long did you run 'The File' for? Was it a fulltime job? (Petah)

I moved to London at the request of the band on September 1st 1979.  Having started 'The File' immediately, it ceased to exist in 1995.  It was a full time job, though unpaid for the first five years - during which time I supplemented my income selling merchandise on tour with all kinds of bands.  I got put on the payroll after returning from the USA Tour in 1984, on the discovery that someone (no names, though he knows who he is because I made a personal phone call and said there would be legal trouble if he even thought about publishing the 2nd volume) of the 'Bootleg' File compilation book, and I told the band's manager at the time (Dave Woods) that I would have to go get a proper job because I no longer wanted to have to make ends meet selling 'swag' on the road with other bands.

The File The New Phase Issues One & Two -  Click Here For Bigger Scan The File Phase Four Issue Three -  Click Here For Bigger Scan The File Phase Two Issue Three -  Click Here For Bigger Scan The File Phase Two Issue One -  Click Here For Bigger Scan

When did you first discover Siouxsie & The Banshees? Were you there from the start, or did you discover them through some other avenue? (Petah)

I read a number of live reviews that said they were the worse band ever, I figured with a singer as amazing looking as Siouxsie, that they couldn't be.  I went to see them at 'Rebecca's' in Birmingham - and I was right.

You did the artwork for the 'Cities In Dust' and 'Candyman' singles, how did that come about? (Petah)

The band simply asked me to, because they knew I had a flair for such things.  Though in retrospect, I don't think the Candyman sleeve came out so great.  Correction, it pretty much sucked.

Cities In Dust 7" Single Front Cover Click Here For Bigger Scan Candyman 12" Single Front Cover Click Here For Bigger Scan

There will at some stage be a book compiling all the issues of 'The File' will you have any input in that? (Petah)

Doug Hart said that the band wanted me to write an intro for it.  But that was a couple of years ago and I haven't heard anything else since.  So the simple answer I guess is no.

What was your involvement with 'Play At Home'? What was it like to do? (Petah)

I played 'Tweedle Dee.  It was a most amusing experience, especially as everyone was pissed out of their brains - that was NOT tea in the pot!

What do you think makes the Banshee 'Legend'? (Petah)

As far as I'm concerned, there was only actually one Banshees era during which they were 'legends', and that's the Sioux, Severin, Morris, McKay line-up.  They were one of the most original sounding, and indeed 'the' best looking band ever - the only band that compare is the current line-up of Marilyn Manson.

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Did you have any input with the forthcoming biography? (Petah)

Not with the original, rejected version.  However, I did a three and a half hour phone interview with the current author Mark Paytress.  Thought it was extremely honest, so who knows how much the band will allow into the book.  I hope the book isn't as 'rose coloured spectacled' as the BBC 'Rock Family Trees' was.

The obvious one: Were there ever Phase 5 Issue 3, New Phase Issues 3 & 4 of The File and if not, why? (Costas)

There was a Phase 5 Issue 3.  As for the New Phase Issues 3 & 4, to be honest I'm not sure with what issue it stopped - though I am currently going through stuff I salvaged from the space I had it stored for 12 years, so can answer you for certain when I've been through everything.  Sadly I lost two thirds of all my belongings, which included a lot of cool Banshees memorabilia.  As for, if not, why not... as much as I had a great time with the band (some shit ones too mind, but that's inevitable in any relationship) and indeed doing The File, things were just getting a bit boring around the Banshees camp - very little going on in between tours/albums, Sioux & Budge living in France - it was time to move on.

What did you think of the reunion of SATB last year? (KJ)

It should never have happened.  The Banshees were of an era and that era is long since over.  I once asked Siouxsie about five or six years ago, when rumours of a reunion were rife, if they were getting back together.  Her answer was 'Chain, what line up would we use?'  I answered that I neither knew nor cared - because if they did reform, I wouldn't be there.  I am a man of my word.

Did you get to any shows, and if so how do you rate the performances? (KJ)

I was neither invited by the band, nor... (see previous answer).

Why did you stop doing The File and where have you been these last few years? (KJ)

See answer to question nine - but in addition... Life with the Banshees wasn't what it had been.  Which is why, once I got involved with Purr magazine, I decided to hit out on my own, down my own creative path.  The Purr experience was short lived.  I turned to writing both pornography for a UK adult magazine and reviewing movies for Kerrang magazine.  The porn led to my becoming deputy editor of 'Mensworld' in the UK and Club International in the US.  I continued writing features/doing interviews/reviewing films, books, videos, albums for Kerrang!!; reviewing films for 'Neon' magazine; exhibiting my art; curating art exhibitions; writing essays for DVD extras; interviewing celebrities/writing features/reviewing films for 'Bizarre' magazine; doing essays for film books.  I am still doing all manner of freelance writing for magazines; have since been promoted to editor-in-chief of Club International US; I am writing a 'Cerebral Horror' film script; painting (on canvas for the first time) - but most important of all, I have been madly in love with a wonderful creature called Sloan - the single most important person I have had the good fortune to meet, who both stimulates and inspires me more than any person or thing I have encountered in my entire life.  Friend, lover, muse.

Do you keep in contact at all with Siouxsie, Budgie, or Steven Severin? (KJ)

People sometimes drift apart fro no apparent reason.  It happened with me and the Banshees.  No big fall out (contrary to rumours).  No obligatory musical differences :)  One day I realised it had been like forever since we'd been in touch, and that was it really.  No regrets.  Life goes on, and I assure you life is wonderful.  I do see Martin McCarrick from time to time though - he's still a great friend.

Who was your favourite Banshees guitarist? (TattDawg69)

No contest - John Mckay.  The only original sounding Banshees' guitarist.

What are you up to these days? (TattDawg69)

See the answer to question 12.

What is you favourite Banshee fiction/story you have heard that isn't quite true? (TattDawg69)

They're all true :)

What was your favourite tour? (Robbiefett)

Lollapalooza 1991.

Any stories or wild parties that you care to share? (Isaak)

The best are private.  Though I guess some will be in the book - at least I hope they are.

Have you still got a 'Madonna' BOG? (Tweedledon)

Contrary to what Budgie said in a Melody Maker article circa the 'Finsbury Park' gig, the Banshees did not get Madonna out of my toilet.  The moment I fell in love with the person I was once married to, I sat on the toilet one day and in a flash of something or other, tore the whole damn lot down.  The simple answer to this question is actually - No.  Hope you're doing good in life though Don - You made a fine Tweedle :)

It's been a pleasure doing the interview - The Banshees/Creatures are bloody damn lucky that they still have such a loyal bunch of followers as you lot.

All my best

Chainsaw